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A <TORY ABOUT A REAL MAN                                                                      189
and from it arose such a fine moist vapour that one wanted
to stick one's head out of the window to catch these
pleasant raindrops.
"He's coming!" whispered Meresyev.
The heavy oak doors at the entrance opened slowly
and two people emerged: a rather plump young woman,
bare-headed, her hair combed back from her forehead,
wearing a white blouse and a dark skirt; and a young
soldier whom even Alexei did not at once recognise as
the tankman. In one hand he carried his suitcase and
over his other arm he carried his greatcoat; and he
walked with such a springy step that it was a pleasure
to watch him. Evidently, he was trying his strength, and
was so delighted at being able to move freely that he
did not run but seemed to glide down the steps. He took
his companion's arm and, sprinkled with heavy, golden
raindrops, walked with her along the embankmentó
towards the window of the ward.
As Alexei watched them his heart was filled with joy:
so everything had passed off well! No wonder she has
such a frank, sweet, simple face. Such a one would not
turn away. No! Girls like that don't turn away from a
man in trouble.
They drew near the window, halted and looked up.
The young couple stood against the rain-polished para-
pet of the embankment where the slowly falling rain
sketched a background of bright, slanting streaks. And
here Alexei noticed that the tankman looked embarrassed
and worried, and that Anyuta, who really was as pretty
as in the photograph, also looked worried and embar-
rassed, that her arm lay loosely on the tankman's arm,
and that altogether she looked agitated and irresolute,
as if she were about to withdraw her arm and run
They waved their hands, smiled a strained smile,
walked further along the embankment and vanished
round the corner. Silently the patients returned to their
"Poor Gvozdev hasn't hit it off," observed the major,
but on hearing the tap of Klavdia Mikhailovna's heels
in the corridor, he gave a start and abruptly turned to
the window.